‘The very best things in life can’t be captured in status updates.’

gif by Wells Baum

“Remember that the very best things in life can’t be captured in status updates.”

— Author Shauna Niequist in Stop Instagramming Your Perfect Life

Life curation on the Internet is a falsity.  People are just as lame and as flawed and occasionally brilliant as you are. The Internet is partial truths—we get to decide what people see and what they don’t. That’s why it’s safer short term. And that’s why it’s much, much more dangerous long term. Reality lies behind the push of the button.



Photo by Sharon McCutcheon

Digital technology liberates the wannabe.

Cheap tools (iPhones and apps) combined with distribution platforms (Youtube, Instagram, Twitter) make stardom feasible.

Making and marketing are easier today.  But it’s harder than ever to stand out.

Democratizing the tools and platforms create chaos online.  Everyone’s art gets noticed but it appears the same:  the same filters, the same crops, the same copy, the same production quality.  Only 20% of the millions of contributors actually shine.  The rest is just noise.

“Everybody wants to be naked and famous.” – Tricky

If fame is your incentive to create, you’re doing it wrong.  Over-promotion is easy to catch.  It also weakens your art.  No one wants to buy your images on Instacanvas.

All this chicanery from phony artists makes it annoyingly difficult for real artists to market themselves.

If you’re going to participate in the chaos of self-promotion, do it for fun, not profit.

The Open Internet With Tim Berners-Lee

Notes from SXSW:  The Open Internet With Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web:  A lot coding today is pre-packaged.  Any person can edit their photography or iTunes library without knowing the programming behind it. “Completely ignore how something is to be used.”  Tim’s way of encouraging creation and connecting it to other things.  We can’t always see what’s right in front of us.  Plus, someone else might do the connecting in which built a part.  “3D desktops are around the corner.”  He didn’t elaborate on this but augmented reality is coming quick (see Project Glass).  “The Internet is like the air you breathe.”  This is why Egyptians erupted as soon as the government shut it down.   Spying can be more “insidious” than blocking the Internet.  By leaving the Internet open, the government can track your every move.  “URLs will be around forever.” Tim predicts that GIFs may die however since they are just the latest creative sensation. The Internet must make it easy to “stroke” the artist’s content with micropayments. Ten cents can really add up. 

Social networking is superficial

via giphy

We connect. We share. We comment and like often without telling why. We do all this digitally while avoiding real-world conversations.

Social networking is more or less superficial. It allows everyone to feel like their own celebrity, shouting to the world in self-praise and proclaiming expertise but rarely justifying it.

Just because we can be heard doesn’t mean we actually have something important to say or show.

The world still demands authenticity, less sharing and more doing. Actions always speak louder than words. Quality of work is scarce and therefore really noticeable if we can get it right.

We should prove our worth by actually doing something that others care about.

Photography Lesson #1: Don’t take any pictures that can be Googled


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gif via giphy


A close friend once told me that he doesn’t take pictures of anything that can be Googled.

Ever since then I’ve moved away from commonplace photos and have looked for more unique image opportunities.

But what happens when a helicopter flies over the Brooklyn Bridge or a cute kid sits on a public fountain? All of a sudden that Googleable image tells a story.

Old and well-known things get rediscovered when a new element gets added.  Even an Instagram filter adds a different perspective.  Maybe you’ve never seen the Empire State in Sepia or Chromogenic.

In the words of Auguste Rodin:

I invent nothing.  I rediscover.

Is the airport a social network?

The airport may be the world's biggest/smallest physical social network. The hubs in Atlanta, Heathrow, and Munich bring people from all across the world, speaking the same language in design.

Airport signs and rules are the same everywhere. You can figure out where you need to go just by following the terminal numbers. You can also ghost the herd of passengers and not talk to anyone.

Airports are symbolic of our online social lives: massive, interconnected and universal places where we’re surrounded by potentially thousands of similar interests. Yet we stick to our tribe, keep an eye on our feeds of people we’ve never met.

That’s what makes me so excited about ambient networking apps like Highlight. We can meet new people simply by being near them in reality, uniting physical and digital worlds.

Today, we connect through screens. Tomorrow we could connect through real audible conversations and shake hands. Face to face relationships is more valuable than ever because the Internet is making them scarce.

Silent networking is ok too. We can connect to a global audience on Instagram through an image which says a thousand words. But it’d be nice on occasion to ask someone like @juunn or @finn how they take excellent photos. Connecting in a lengthy conversation through Instagram is hard.

Google+, maybe?


You probably recognize the following microsyntax:

  1. Pin
  2. #
  3. Tweet
  4. @
  5. Like

Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook have popularized these terms into our vocabulary.  They even get used in different context.

Yesterday I was searching for tickets on Kayak.  It uses the “Pin” button to pin your latest search to the top.  I thought it may pin my trip plans to Pinterest.

As a call to action “pin” seems so obvious yet it had no universal meaning before Pinterest.

If some sites are using the microsyntax elements then Instagram brought them all together.

Instagram uses the communication lingo popularized by Twitter and Facebook in its sharing community.  If you don’t hashtag your image or @ someone, it’s probably not going to get discovered and liked.  If Instagram had existed prior to Twitter and Facebook, it would’ve struggled to spread its own sharing terminology.

“Google” is still the most universally understood Internet word, essentially replacing the word “search.”  Meanwhile, other brand words like “shazam” have a long way to go to become everyday words.

Our offline and online vocabulary are one of the same.

Reward Psychology

On the human addiction for digital rewards:

Today, technology companies are creating new habits by running users through a series of desire engines—and variable rewards fuel the chain reaction.

Companies like Kiip, Zynga, and American Express drop pellets. Every time we use their services we get something back like points and even discounts.

A like, comment, or a badge on Foursquare create similar gratification. There’s even email games that test your inbox management against friends.

Every app, game, or company incentives us in one of three ways as Eyal points to.

The Tribe. Social networks fuel our emotions with constant positive feedback. We get annoyed when no one likes or comments on posts.

The Hunt. We need to find the next thing whether it’s through search or an article in our RSS feed. Discovery feels good.

The Self. Rewards keep us coming back. Any positive return even if it’s a point increases happiness.

Mash all three together and we’re in a never ending need for appeasement.

This is why I quit video games years ago. There’s not any substance to easy points. And this is why recently I’ve become just as doubtful over likes. They really are a passive way of affirmation and don’t really show commitment.

Many people delete their Instagram photos after getting no likes in the first minute of posting. We’re addicted to positive feedback even if it’s trifling.

Yesterday at the grocery store I saw $15 Facebook Credits. Yes, people actually subsidize their digital points.

I don’t think the rewards system ever stops in the digital world. It’s too easy and costs virtually nothing. The main challenge is really for the the company giving our the rewards. Do these rewards get people to use the product, create a memorable experience, and generate sales? That’s the end goal, anyway.

Pinterest Edging Tumblr In Pageviews

gif via Mashable

Cheers to the web prodigy @shl for the tweet.


  • Pinterest focuses on one thing only, images.  Simplicity like Instagram.  Tumblr allows posts on text, quotes, pictures, video, link, chat, and audio.
  • “Repin” conjures quickness.  Publish, boom, we feel like contributors.  “Reblog” sounds lengthy.  Internet denizens have 3 second attention spans.
  • Pinterest is a Facebook Timeline app which means your pins show in the real time ticker.  Log into Facebook, you can’t miss your friends’ pins.  Tumblr awaits.

  • Pinterest is searchable.  Tumblr search is confused by the plethora of mixed media content and too many tags.  Again, simplicity.
  • Pinterest users all have the same looking template.  Like Facebook.  Tumblr has 1000+ designs to choose from including create your own.
  • Pinterest is a girl’s world.  Tumblr is for “Teebowing.”

Compare stats.

Social TV


Simon Cowell on television viewers using social networks:

“The only powerful people now on TV are the people on Twitter and Facebook.”

Social networks drive tune-in.  In the case of Twitter, it can even serve as a TV replacement; for example, I follow soccer matches through Twitter feeds.

Social is also a HUGE engagement tool.  The X Factor allows fans to vote through Twitter instead of through SMS.  Free and easy voting creates a whole new market for participation where people want to do more on their phones while watching television than merely checking into shows using Get Glue.

Next up is watching and tweeting directly on the TV, with a side panel pulling in your friends and followers and indicating their votes.  You’d tweet through a TV touch screen.

TV, like music, is an inherently social experience.  This is just the beginning of TV/social integration.